Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Mystery of Blessing

When the narrative of your life actually lines up with your dream in life, there's no appropriate response other than gratitude. The next question, however, is whether or not you've been dreaming well. In light of the grand narrative of God's restoration and the healing of the world, perhaps any dream we could accomplish would be too small. The best work is God's. But when our dream is in participation with God's dream, when our imagination is as hopeful and life-giving as God's, then we're definitely on to something. And when we begin to see our dreams become realized, it can be seen as nothing if it cannot be seen as a gift.

However, we Christians are not experts at receiving gifts. Either we are unaware of the magnitude of the gift in the light of the world in which we live and thus we squander the gift in the embrace of luxury and excess, never allowing our gratitude to reflect on our conduct. Or we are too aware of the suffering of this world and are thus incapable of accepting the gift. We think it unfair that we receive anything more than what we deserve while others' basic needs, let alone their dreams, are kept from realization. And thus we are unable to entertain the presumption of gratitude.

The truth is, there is a balance... one we've rarely discovered. There is a way, paradoxical as it may be, to be fully aware of the suffering of others and, simultaneously, fully thankful for and able to celebrate the blessings given us. The beginning of the mystery of this balance, I believe, is in the Eucharist (which, after all, means thankfulness)--the remembrance of God's solidarity with oppressed, crucified, and suffering people AND the celebration of the love and victory and grace and freedom and salvation given us as God offers body and blood for us through Christ. The Eucharist itself is a paradox of grief and celebration and thus cannot be taken in truth without the company of a life lived in reflection of the radical love of God displayed in the death and victory of Jesus. In remembering Christ we also look toward God's eschatological dream for the world and hope to be consumed by it.

So when we receive the mystery of blessing in the midst of a broken world, we can only look into the eyes of Christ on the cross. There we see our value. There we see our blessing... even while we see the evidence of tears wept. When we see our dreams becoming realized, we begin by saying "thank you"... and we say it in hope.

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